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'Gasland' Filmmaker Takes on Cuomo and 'Dot.FlatEarth' on Astini News

Unfortunately, I fail to see that we are getting anywhere except deeper and deeper into your entrenched position–a stance that refuses to deal with new information.

How very sneaky of you– trying to shift the dialogue away from the actual question, which is the reporting that the gas industry has known of its contamination for decades and cannot prevent it.  You would like to embroil us in the wrong question, by comparing gas to coal and you suggest that I am advocating using coal instead of gas.  Of course, this is not my position.  Good job!  It's gonna work,  I will jump down your "he said, she said" coal rabbit hole a few paragraphs down.

But this first:  You continue to ignore the last four years of science and reporting on this issue.  I don't know why you choose to do so, but it is clear that you are.  If the last several years of reporting both here in The Times and at Pro-Publica and many other verifiable sources are not going to open your position, it is clear that I am not either.

But, suffice it to say, ignoring new information and upholding beliefs that have been demonstrated by emerging evidence to be false is a disservice to the idea of "news" and "newspapers."  And to your readers.  There have been many such people on the planet throughout history who clung to beliefs far beyond the point they were proven to be incorrect.  Just ask Galileo. I suggest renaming your blog dot.flatearth.

Your unreferenced statement that there is no evidence of widespread water contamination is unfounded, irresponsible and ignores the thousands of cases across the nation that have been reported.  Such a statement is as journalistically dishonest as it is intellectually lazy. Been to Bradford County, Pa.?  Or Butler County, Pa? Or Susquehanna County?  Or the Gulf of Mexico?  Or the coast of Louisiana?  Or to the gas fields of Wyoming?  Or West Virginia?  Or the Barnett Shale in Texas?  Cement failure causes gas and chemical migration.  The gas industry acknowledges it.  The EPA verified it. You should too.  Instead, you continue to refuse to address the reporting featured in either the film GASLAND, or THE SKY IS PINK or in your own paper with respect to the very high rates of well leakage, contamination, social costs, greenhouse gas emissions and a host of other issues.

Your qualifiers — gas extracted responsibly and with transparency — is simply not possible.  To be responsible to what and to whom?  Do drillers expect to be fixing leaking and crumbling casing cement for 100 years?  200 years?  300 years?  A gas well only has to produce gas for 20 to 30 years, but the cement has to last forever if it is to protect groundwater.  If you watch the film and read the documents, you will see that the industry itself says that 6 per cent of cement casings fail immediately upon installation and 50 to 60 percent fail after 30 years.

There is no drilling company on earth that could keep up with that maintenance schedule especially not over the eternity we will need to have clean water.

I have written on this subject here:

And the film, once again, is here:

If I am to understand your position correctly, you are advocating switching from coal to gas for electricity generation.   You are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

As has been shown by both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the insightful peer-reviewed work of Bob Howarth at Cornell, there is no appreciable benefit in terms of greenhouse gas emissions by switching from coal to gas.  In fact, gas is worse in the short term (20 yrs).  Methane is many times more potent than CO2 in the atmosphere, and since the fracking process emits huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere, gas is not preferable to coal in the short term or long term.

As to the public health implications, we go into that in THE SKY IS PINK as well.  The Colorado School of Public health found "moderate to high" risk of health problems related to gas drilling pollution in their initial study.  Yes, more study is desperately needed now.  In fact, last week the Democratically controlled New York State Assembly passed a bill calling for a Health Impact Assessment before any permits were issued.  The bill was based on two public hearings and letters from hundreds of doctors and environmental and public health advocates. It was blocked by Senate Republicans on the last day of session.  Are citizens now supposed to sit back and just sign off on the DEC's plan because one of our political parties has decided to side with the gas industry over public health?

[Here's the link to the study Fox cites above; I encourage you to read the findings to put that phrase above in context.]

Adding to the call for study, last week, the American Nurses Association passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on all new fracking permits nationwide.  Perhaps you should report on that?

Mr. Revkin, the news is that renewables are here now.

Another myth propagated by gas-hawkers is that renewable energy is far off, some kind of future fantasy.  That is also not the case. Renewables are here now and they work extremely well.  Germany, a country with less sun than New York,  just produced half of its electricity from Solar: [article link]

We should not be building new power plants that burn fossil fuels, period.  We need to make the transition now.  Here's how we can do it, from Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson's front page article in Scientific American: [article link]

You admire Walter Hang, so do I.  Just last week in Albany there was an unprecedented gathering of groups representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers united against the DEC's drilling plan. Walter gave a booming, outraged speech in adamant opposition to the drilling plan.  Perhaps, if you admire him so much, you should have a public dialogue with him on the subject in these pages?  Walter suspects, as I do, that this drilling plan opens up the rest of the state to development and there is nothing that says it won't.

Home rule?  Home rule would be a disaster in this case.  Drawing out this battle into hundreds of skirmishes across the state, driving people into costly legal battles against an industry that can outspend them.

His legacy will still be as the governor who opened the door.  I respect him and I don't want to see him make this mistake.

Again, if you and the DEC are so confident in this process, put the first wells in the NYC watershed.  If you are so set in ignoring the science on well leakage, then advocate for that.

DEC would rather risk the Southern tier, where the poorer folks live instead, calling it a compromise.  That is disingenuous, morally corrupt.  The DEC is deciding that people in those areas are expendable.  Like the folks in West Virginia's coal mining areas were expendable.  Like the folks of the Gulf Coast were expendable, because they don't have political clout and they don't have the money to play the game.  In agreeing with DEC you are saying that they don't have equal protection under the law because of the economic, political and geographic circumstances.  These cruel political calculations are not based on science or fact or truth, but on cash and influence.

Unequal protection works both ways.  This plan may not even be legal for any part of the state.  Even Chesapeake's lobbyist, Tom West, was recently casting public doubt, "I still do have some concerns about the legality of making any part of the state off limits to development, given that the state policy is to promote the development of the resource."

Mr. Revkin, you are in danger of going down a dangerous road, that of the worst kind of apologists for fossil fuels–masquerading as environmentalists while throwing the public health concerns of the New Yorkers who are least politically and economically positioned to defend themselves to the wayside.

Please understand that as a representative of a frontline community that stands to lose everything I have, my home, my relationship to the region, my faith in government and democracy, I implore you to recognize the rack and ruin you are promoting and take a step back.  If you would like, honestly, I would be happy to tour you to some drilling areas at the next possible opportunity so you can see for yourself.

Or continue to say that The Sky is Pink.  The minute those wells start leaking, it is your legacy.   And the Governor's.

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